Bookmark and ShareJuliet Michaelson is a researcher at nef‘s centre for well-being.

An interesting piece by Kari Stoever in The Huffington Post, reflecting on the discussion about nef‘s Happy Planet Index that took place last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The piece usefully reflects on the “intuitive” sense that money doesn’t buy happiness, an intuition reflected in the findings of well-being research. Even so, it doesn’t  get the interpretation of the Index quite right. It says:

“the United States ranks as low as most of sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, consuming more than our share of resources doesn’t make us happier, despite the fact that we live almost twice as long than those in sub-Saharan Africa who consume very little.”

This suggest that life satisfaction scores (how the HPI measures happiness) in the US are as low as in sub-Sarahan Africa. They aren’t. But what the HPI does show is that Americans are producing fewer units of well-being per units of resources consumed than countries like Malawi and Congo. Which is a sobering thought indeed for the champions of consumption who constitute the vast majority of Davos participants.

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